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Jarrell Miller on Cro Cop: "I'm Gonna Knock His Head Off"

  • Published in Interviews

The biggest bummer in Kickboxing over the past few years was when Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller stopped fighting in Kickboxing after the controversial loss to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in 2013. There was no big announcement, no big farewell, Jarrell just went back to focusing on what he does best; Boxing. Jarrell is big, he’s fast and he hits hard, which is incredibly valuable in the Boxing ring, but he also has that one extra thing that will make him a star; Jarrell Miller can talk.

So when I saw a message earlier today from Jarrell asking if I could talk for a bit, I knew what I was in for. We ran a series of interviews with Jarrell leading up to his K-1 debut in 2012 and ran a few more around the time of his fight with Cro Cop and there is one thing that we know for certain; Jarrell is a firecracker. Much in the way that Joe Schilling always talks and people listen, Jarrell has the same gift. When we were talking I found myself smiling or laughing more often than not. Why? Because everything that comes out of Jarrell’s mouth is honest, it’s real and it’s all gold.

In fact, I’ve bugged Jarrell a few times over the past year to feel him out if he’d think about returning to Kickboxing. It was always the same thing; if the timing and the money are right. So when he was heading into his last fight on May 15th against Joshua Harris there was already an offer on the table for Jarrell to return to Kickboxing to fight Cro Cop. “The motivation just hasn’t been there to fight Kickboxing again,” he explained. The Cro Cop fight was his biggest fight to date and for many they believed that he won, only for the Croatian judges to come out and talk about them enforcing their own rules about “holding” while ignoring Cro Cop’s headbutts.

Nobody can blame Jarrell for not being excited about Kickboxing anymore, not with his Boxing career taking off. We can’t tell you what kind of stuff that he’s been working on in Boxing, but it’s potentially huge for him. If you’ve heard him talk and seen him fight you know that this guy could be a star, what’s worse for those holding the money is that he knows it. So when Jarrell found himself sitting in the club after his round two TKO win over Harriss, it dawned on him, “Man, I gotta fight Cro Cop. This has to happen.”

That’s when the talks got serious and when Jarrell realized that this was going to happen again. “If there was going to be one thing to motivate me to come back to Kickboxing, it was going to be Cro Cop,” he stated. “Now I’ve got the chance to do that, and you know what? Main event on Spike TV. The timing is right, the money is right, the deal was right. The timing couldn’t be any more perfect. I’m at 89% right now already, after a few more weeks of training? Ha!” 

The motivation to Kickbox might not have been there for him over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been watching. In fact, he’s acutely aware of what to expect from Mirko Cro Cop on June 21st. “Are you kidding? He’s throwing what, like 40 punches a round and like five kicks? C’mon, man. I’m over here in training throwing 200 strikes a round and kicks? Forget about it, I’m going to kick him and he’s not going to know what hit him! I’m going to knock his head off! He’s slow.”

Although, he is willing to give Cro Cop his due. “You know, I thought that he beat Bonjasky. With Bonjasky, I saw that fight with Braddock Silva and he was getting beaten up, so then GLORY gives him a big sendoff, but they did it in the wrong place against the wrong guy. I thought that Cro Cop won that fight, you know? That’s why I can’t let it go to the judges again.”

For now Jarrell is just committed to this one fight with GLORY, but he seems open to the idea of more if the timing and money are right. One would have to think that it all depends on how this fight with Mirko goes, but it’s clear that GLORY sees him as a valuable name to bring in on short notice like this. 

 

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Watch GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing on LK

  • Published in Glory

It's just nine days away now from GLORY 17 and GLORY Last Man Standing and for those outside of the US who are looking for a way to watch the events live, look no further than here on LiverKick. You'll be able to purchase and watch both events live via the embeds below. GLORY 17 begins at 8pm Eastern time on June 21st while Last Man Standing begins at 10pm Eastern time.

Last Man Standing is available to those in the United States who wish to order it through here instead of through a cable system.

GLORY 17

GLORY Last Man Standing

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Joseph Valtellini Talks Career Growth and Learning From Losses

  • Published in Interviews

Over the past few weeks I’ve been noticing a trend, this trend is that while GLORY’s fighters are popular and all have their own followings, there has been one fighter that has seemed to move a bit beyond just the Kickboxing fan bubble, that fighter is Joseph Valtellini. His last fight was in December in the GLORY 13 Welterweight Tournament where he fought an amazing fight against Nieky Holzken, a fight that was almost across the board voted as the fight of the year for last year. So it should be considered surprising that he hasn’t fought in six months now yet I’m seeing his name everywhere. 

Then again, it’s not that surprising, considering the man himself. Valtellini comes from humble beginnings, there were no high hopes of a nation pinned upon his shoulders, he wasn’t being trained by world renowned Dutch trainers and when he made his GLORY debut at GLORY 6 he was well-buried in the undercard. He was just a kid from Canada who had built up a decent following for himself in New York, then he stopped the warhorse that is Murat Direkci, which wasn’t something that many saw coming. 

It’s been two years since that happened, with the Kickboxing world taking notice of Valtellini and while he has done his best to keep his life “normal,” it’s clear that things are trending upwards. “It’s been crazy. Well, I still have my full-time job teaching, then I come home quickly, then I have 4-5 to kind of make my dinner, pack for training, head for training at 5.Tonight I actually have one of the local newspapers is coming to my training at 5, then I have a local TV network that I have to head to, I’m getting on the local news tonight at 8, then tomorrow I’ll have to do it all over again. It’s crazy, you know?”

Valtellini is at the point in his career where things are taking off for him, but he thrives on being busy sometimes and wouldn’t know what to do without it. Over the past few months he’s been getting more and more attention after his fight with Holzken, including being flown down to Miami to appear as a guest trainer on the reality television series Combates America. Joe is in demand.

With the biggest fight of his career upon him, though, Joe knows that his popularity and fanbase helps him to get to where he is; “I’m very thankful to the people on social media because when that Marc de Bonte/Karapetyan fight was going on people were tweeting that, you know, I was the one that deserved that spot and so forth. I really have to thank people for being educated on the sport and for believing that I’m worthy of that title.

“It is absolutely where I belong, though,” he is quick to add. “Whether or not Holzken is in the equation, that is a fight that we’ll see again I’m sure and I’ve learned so much since that fight and from that fight, but no matter it being Holzken or De Bonte with that title, this is where I belong right now and I’m going to win that title.”

The Holzken fight has done a lot for Joe’s career, as he can probably attest to for being so busy, even though it was a loss. “Even though it was a loss everyone saw that I was willing to put it all on the line and that my drive and will to win is number one. Also, if you put on an exciting fight, it’s a sport that I love so much that I feel that I want that sport to grow -- especially in North America -- the more GLORY grows the more that I grow. I want for people when they turn the TV on instead of seeing Mixed Martial Arts there to be Kickboxing and GLORY on TV. So yeah, I’m very motivated, this is an exciting time in my career and for Kickboxing. 

“Spike TV has been huge for us Kickboxers across the world because it’s given us the opportunity to be seen. Now there is PPV on top of Spike TV, things are growing and people are jumping on board,” he laughs. “I’m very active on my social media, I like to interact with my fans and supporters so they back me, support me and it fuels me. On June 21st that will be part of what pushes me to the title.”

His last fight may have been in December, but he’s spent the entire time between then and now building himself up and learning more; “I was in the gym the next week after the Holzken fight, doing strength and conditioning, I’ve actually started Boxing a little bit more and working with other Boxers from Canada. I’ve been adding different dimensions to my game. I’ve been looking at my career as a journey, because as a Martial Artist your journey never ends and no matter where I am I will want to learn. No matter what I want to keep improving, keep learning and always be the best. I think that people are going to see a more complete fighter that came out of that fight learning a lot.”

As for if the downtime will affect him; “Nah, it was the right amount of time. I had a very active 2013. It was nice to go to the gym when you don’t have to worry about fighting or weight cutting. That’s the time when you actually do your homework, your studying. It’s like preparing, sharpening yourself. Putting your bag work in, sparring, always learning, adapting and trying new things. I think that time off has put me in a great place and this weight cut has been the best that I’ve ever had. This time off has been great for me, letting me heal, learn, prepare smarter. I’m ready.” 

On June 21st Joe Valtellini will get his shot at greatness at GLORY Last Man Standing on PPV where he’ll fight Marc de Bonte for the GLORY Welterweight Championship. For more information on GLORY Last Man Standing check http://www.gloryppv.com

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Glory Unlocks Simon Marcus Vs Joe Schilling Video

  • Published in Kickboxing

Glory Sports International has unlocked one of the most exciting and dramatic kickboxing fights ever for us to watch completely free. Joe Schilling Vs Simon Marcus had us all jumping out of our seats at Glory 17. This was their third encounter with Marcus winning the first two but those were Muay Thai rules which favors Simon. This time it was Glory rules which allows Schilling to box more without Marcus smothering him in the clinch and the outcome shows what a difference it makes.

This was such a back and forth fight with Schilling looking like he was losing, and then all of a sudden a switch of momentum and Marcus would look like hes losing and this happened repeatedly until the very last second. It's fights like this that prove the excitement and entertainment that kickboxing can bring to the fans.

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Relive GLORY 17/Last Man Standing with this Behind the Scenes Video

  • Published in Glory

GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing were two incredible events jam-packed into one of the best nights in kickboxing history. Now you can relive some of those moments while getting a backstage view of what went down that night behind the scenes thanks to this awesome video from 2.One.Fly productions. 

Glory 17 - Last Man Standing - Behind the Scenes from 2.One.Fly on Vimeo.

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GLORY Helps New Divisions to Shine in Kickboxing

  • Published in Glory

Kickboxing has had a long history throughout Europe and Asia, but it really got bigger in the 90’s when K-1 started up in Japan. K-1 was aimed at an audience in Japan that was obsessed with Heavyweights, mainly from professional wrestling. Pro wrestling in Japan was all about Heavyweights, with the prestige of being called “Heavyweight Champion” holding a ton of weight with the local culture. So when K-1 got off the ground, of course Heavyweights were the primary focus.

It wasn’t until 2002 when K-1 started to take another weight class seriously -- 70kg MAX -- mostly because of the young, handsome and talented Masato. Masato was a star in the making, but was at least 30kg less than most of K-1’s big stars, so they needed to create a new division. That division was the MAX division and since then has been one of the best divisions in the Kickboxing world.

Part of the problem, though, is that for many years fighters had to aspire to be either a Heavyweight or a MAX fighter, with there being no in between. For a lot of fighters who were too small to be Heavyweights and too big to be MAX fighters that left them to work the minor circuits in Europe and Japan without any hopes of the bright lights and world titles being in their possession. That has changed in the past few years, with It’s Showtime really making a name for themselves with expanded weight classes that highlighted more talent. Everyone followed suit and now with GLORY we finally get the realization of this.

If you don’t believe me, look no further than GLORY’s GLORY 17 and Last Man Standing events on June 21st. Sure, on GLORY 17 the big feature bouts are Heavyweight and Lightweight (70kg/MAX) between Cro Cop and Jarrell Miller and Ky Hollenbeck and Andy Ristie, but the card also features a Featherweight Contender’s Tournament. Then while Last Man Standing will crown a GLORY Heavyweight Champion in the main event between Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven, the GLORY Welterweight Championship is on the line between Joe Valtellini and Marc de Bonte and the Last Man Standing tournament will crown a Middleweight Champion.

Even a few years ago the idea of a major Kickboxing event, probably the biggest of the  year, being headlined by a weight class that isn’t Heavyweight or Lightweight seemed like insanity, yet here we are. 

GLORY still recognizes the importance of Heavyweight and Lightweight, but are willing to feature some of these other weight classes as just as important, which has helped to create new stars. Joe Valtellini was a virtual unknown to the world just over a year ago, now not only Kickboxing fans know who he is, but combat sports fans in general. Someone like Nieky Holzken was always toiling away in Europe as one of the best in the world, but was virtually unchallenged with nowhere to house his talents and bring in opponents. 

There is a brave new world in Kickboxing right now and you don’t need to be in one of two categories to become a star anymore. You just need to be good.

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Glory 17 Spike TV Ratings and Highlight Video

  • Published in Glory

Glory 17 scored an average of of 487,000 viewers and a peak of 862,000. The average number is slightly below Glory 16 and became the fourth highest rated show out of Glory Sports International's seven on Spike TV.

Here are the Glory ratings on Spike TV:

  1. Glory 11: 381,000 viewers
  2. Glory 12: 476,000 viewers
  3. Glory 13: 659,000 viewers
  4. Glory 14: 495,000 viewers
  5. Glory 15: 354,000 viewers
  6. Glory 16: 498,000 viewers
  7. Glory 17: 487,000 viewers

We do not have the PPV numbers yet so we are patiently waiting to find out how Glory 17: Last man standing really did, but in the meantime here is a really amazing highlight video of Glory 17 that captures the feeling and intensity of the fighters behind the scenes perfectly.

 

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Where Does Glory Go From Here?

  • Published in News

I made a pretty big deal about PPV buyrates and their impact on the future direction of Glory, but in fact, I didn’t have lofty expectations as to how the Last Man Standing tournament would perform. Modest results were anticipated, although putting a number on that and interpreting its significance is hard to do. This event was a picture-perfect example of a combat sports PPV done right, but some might be wondering: in light of the projected numbers, where does Glory stand? I would argue that Glory stands on perfectly solid ground and in arguably a position better suited to take on the American combat sports market.

We’ve learned a number of important things from following the TV ratings and watching the fight cards themselves: 1) Glory is a consistent performer on SpikeTV, generating ratings on par with or slightly below Bellator and better than WSOF. 2) Glory has found a consistent formula for their 2-hour time slot, staging 4-man contender tournaments, co-main title fights, and a main event SuperFight--that’s a lot of quality kickboxing in one night. 3) Glory has developed a stable of marketable talent that could headline future events. Joe Schilling and Joseph Valtellini are superstars tailor made for SpikeTV with the skills to sell a fight and the exciting styles to deliver on fight night.

For the two and a half years that Glory has spent trying to establish an identity and a consistent product to deliver to American audiences, it seems like the end result has finally been achieved, and it is 100% solid. Each card features a couple of well-known headliners and a contender tournament with prospects who are still making their name. This keeps costs low by not breaking bank on a mega card full of 6-figure talent, and it allows Glory to book and sell-out smaller venues that it can continually revisit. This model has been successfully followed by Strikeforce, It’s Showtime, and now Lion Fight.

Does this mean that Glory won’t stage big PPV shows anymore? No, but it does mean that Glory will need to be strategic and creative in how it plans future events. The SpikeTV formula will work well in the United States when Glory must necessarily operate in 2,000 to 3,000 person venues, but if places like Istanbul can really put more than 10,000 butts in seats, then there are greater possibilities. Co-promotion with Bellator would also be a major boon to Glory. While Glory may not have the muscle right now to be a PPV success, it could easily enhance the marketability of a Bellator PPV. Bellator/Glory Dynamite 2014 on PPV, anyone? Bellator and Glory could not be in a better position to attempt something like this, especially with Scott Coker in the driver’s seat clearing the way to stable co-promotion. Having multiple smaller shows with only a couple of big shows per year is the right step to sustainability long-term.

Finally, let’s remind ourselves of where Glory truly stands. In terms of its success, Glory is nowhere close to being the UFC, and neither is it close to being Bellator. It is a big, international organization that does slightly better than or about the same as a regional fight promotion. It has shouldered substantial loss to get to where it is now. However, it is unequivocally gaining momentum. The combat sports community is interested in Glory and wants to see more, and every event is gaining more traction in the hearts of fight fans. The ratings, while not a skyrocketing success, are stable. The stage is set for Glory to have its breakthrough moment with the right talent, the right broadcast deals, and the right formula in place. Glory needs to keep putting itself on TV with more small shows while waiting for the right moment to bring out the big guns. It may not happen this year, but that moment will come eventually. Until then, it’s up to us to keep tuning in, to keep supporting the sport, and to keep spreading the word. Kickboxing is alive, and it is finally here.

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Glory 17 and Last Man Standing: A Night to Remember (Part 2)

  • Published in Glory

The Last Man Standing PPV event started with the first tournament quarter final Artem Levin Vs. Alex Pereira. Let me just say how amazing it was to be able to watch a good kickboxing event in full HD on my TV without any hassle of hooking up my laptop, considering The Fight Network and Spike TV still don't have HD channels where I am. Levin basically had Pereira outclassed, he was doing whatever he liked, slipping and countering the very nervous looking Brazilian. When Pereira actually threw his punches like we've seen him do before he would either land or come very close, but he appeared to be to tentative and Levin's liver punches weren't helping. The Russian used his slick defense, counters and experience to coast to a (30-27 on all scorecards) Unanimous decision and moved onto the semi-finals with very little damage to his body.

The second tournament quarter final featured the always entertaining fan favourite Melvin Manhoef Vs. Filip "The Belgian Bull" Verlinden. As much as everyone I spoke to wanted Manhoef to get back to his violent ways and showcase one of his signature explosive knockouts, realistically we all knew it would not be easy. Manhoef was at a substantial height disadvantage, and Verlinden is a very technical fighter who really doesn't get hit very often. We were all on the edge of our seats because we know what Melvin is capable of, and he was stalking Filip and keeping him on the ropes waiting to pounce the entire fight. In the first round Melvin came in with a big overhand right and Verlinden moved left to avoid it and threw an absolutely beautifully timed head kick which caught Manhoef on the forehead and dropped him. Melvin seemed fine when he stood up, but hes lucky that kick didn't hit his chin, or else that fight would have been over. For the rest of the fight it was more of the same, Melvin stalking Verlinden as the Belgian moved, blocked and just won by having a much higher output and of course the knockdown in the first. One of the judges gave the fight 28-28 and the other two gave it 30-27 to Verlinden. Maybe that one judge was checking his text messages during the fight, because I don't personally see how he could have scored this fight a draw.

Joe Schilling Vs. Simon Marcus was the third quarter final match-up and the most exciting fight of the night. Most Joe Schilling fights have some sort of dramatic event and this time was no different. During the first round I felt Schilling was taking control of the fight but the referee was definitely giving Marcus an advantage by allowing him to clinch for longer than I thought was allowed. Nonetheless, the first round was for Schilling, the second round was more of the same, Schilling's hands are just much better than Simon's and he was putting them to use nicely, but what made this fight so exciting is that I wouldn't consider either man to possess the greatest defense. Simon finally pinned Joe in a corner and threw 4 straight punches as hard as he could and from what I could see his eyes appeared closed considering he is not used to throwing combos like this, the last straight right landed and dropped Schilling causing Marcus to win that round by two points. Schilling recovered well and won the third round the same way as the first and now of course they had to go to an extra round. As the extra round was starting Schilling looked the more fatigued of the two fighters, but about a minute into the round Marcus started dropping his mouth guard. This tactic is often used by a tired fighter to get a break or the mouth guard just doesn't fit well; however, it should be noted that this wasn't happening very often in the first few rounds. It seemed with every drop of the mouth piece Marcus looked more and more tired and Schilling seemed to just be maintaining his energy level. At this point Big John McCarthy had enough of the stalling and he took a point from Simon for dropping his mouth guard too many times. Therefore, Marcus now needed a knockout to win considering the extra round is judged as one single round and this is where Simon gained respect from a lot of people. He just went after Joe as hard as he could, Simon had 40 seconds to get a knockout and he was going to do everything in his power to do it but with only 20 seconds left he tried to repeat what he did to drop Joe in the second round but this time he got caught with a big right hook with his eyes closed and mouth open. The punch sent his mouth piece flying and  Marcus crashing to the mat stiff as a board. Joe Schilling moved on to the semi's avenging his 2 previous losses by knockout with 20 seconds left in the extra round and once again in dramatic fashion which had me jumping out of my seat, only thing was this was a war and there is a possibility of two more fights.

Fourth quarter final was American Wayne Barrett Vs. Bogdan Stoica from Romania. Barrett was keeping Stoica guessing with his foot work, boxing, and sometimes even randomly jumping straight into the air. Stoica, known for his flying knees, seemed to look a little more nervous than usual, this was his Glory debut after all. Not much was happening during the first two rounds, Stoica really couldn't get anything off because Barrett's footwork was too good. Early in the third round Stoica went for his signature flying knee but Barrett had already anticipated it and moved back the just the right amount while landing a perfect left hook counter on the chin of the airborne Stoica and crumbling him to the canvas. Barett moved on to the semis by 3rd round knockout and didn't take too much damage apart from a headbutt which gave him a nasty Rahman Vs. Holyfield like bump on his forehead.

While the tournament semi-finalists were resting Glory gave us two world title fights. They started with the welterweight title fight between current champion Marc De Bonte and Canadian "Bazooka" Joe Valtellini, this was a very close second place for fight of the night. Bazooka Joe started off controlling the pace and the ring by moving forward and throwing his usual combinations. De Bonte was covering up well, blocking most strikes and throwing counters which were landing, the first round was close but in my opinion De Bonte got it just for the cleaner strikes landed. Second round was all Bazooka Joe, he was throwing great combos, pushing the champion around and avoiding the few counters De Bonte threw this round. Third round Valtellini kept his momentum going with a beautiful hand combination consisting of both head and body punches which he followed by a quick head kick dropping De bonte flat on his back. De Bonte being the experienced fighter he is stayed down for the full eight count then stood up and amazingly seemed to have recovered to make it to the fourth round. Fourth round was big for the champion, it seemed like this was exactly what De Bonte had been waiting for the entire fight, he landed a perfect jumping switch left knee right on Valtellinis chin, he went down hard. Bazooka Joe doesn't have the experience De Bonte has so he tries to stand right away instead of taking his time and is still very wobbly on his feet while the ref gives him the eight count. De Bonte continued the onslaught and battered Valtellini around the ring for the rest of the round and the fifth and final round aswell, Valtellini stayed on his feet during the last round but he had zero offence as he was just barely surviving the whole round. If Glory judges were allowed give 10-8 rounds without a knockdown the fifth would have been one, but i do not think they are. Overall a very close fight, one knockdown and one dominant round for each fighter it all really depended on how the judges scored round 1 and all three judges saw it the same way 47-46 for the new welterweight champion "Bazooka" Joe Valltelini. Joe definitely has some serious work to do to keep the belt away from the man that knocked him out at Glory 13 in Tokyo, Nieky Holzken.

The Semi-finals of the tournament were much slower paced than the quarter finals, probably due to people being pretty beat up. Levin once again used his defense and slick style to not allow Verlinden to land anything while picking him off and winning a unanimous decision 30-27 on all cards. Joe Schilling met Wayne Barrett for a rematch and both fighters were a lot more cautious than they were in their first encounter. The fight was actually quite uneventful and close Joe Schilling won a split decision judges scores were 28-29 Schilling, 28-29 Barrett, and 30-27 Schilling, the last judge was out to lunch.

The heavyweight world title fight between Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita was far from exciting. It was much like their first encounter but with much less output from both fighters. To be honest I can barely remember anything significant from the fight, all that stuck in my mind was Ghita's Trainer Erik Van Warmerdam telling Daniel between rounds to keep waiting, or telling him that Rico was behind. It was very strange advice, something that I personally have never heard from a corner man. When the fight ended none of us watching could choose a winner, I would have hated to be a judge. Ghita did more visible damage with his body kicks, Rico's body looked all beat up and one of his ribs looked to be protruding, but Rico was busier and had much more output and looked to be controlling the pace for all five rounds. In the end the volume of strikes and ring generalship was more important to the judges and Rico Verhoeven kept his belt by unanimous decision, judges scores were 49-46, 49-46, 48-47.

The tournament final, another rematch for Joe schilling, he had already avenged his losses to Marcus and Barrett and now he had to beat Artem Levin to prove the first time wasn't luck. Schilling had been in two hard fights already and Levin was virtually untouched so this would not be an easy task. First round, once again Levin is controlling the fight by making Schilling miss, countering or smothering. Half way through the round Levin missed a right hook and came around with a perfect spinning back fist and dropped Schilling for a 10-8 round. The rest of the fight was just the Russian knowing he is the fresher fighter, ahead on the scorecards and the one with the superior defense. He won the next two rounds handily once again barely taking any damage and becoming the new Glory middleweight champion and $200,000 richer by unanimous decision, judges scores were 29-26, 29-26, 29-26.

Overall I enjoyed Glory 17 thoroughly, out of fifteen fights there was one lackluster bout. I'm really hoping that Glory continues with the PPVs and the under card on Spike TV so that fight fans can learn to appreciate kickboxing. As long as Glory fans keep supporting them, and Glory keeps putting on events like this I cannot see why it shouldn't become the next big thing in fight sports.

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Glory 17: Glory Prepares to Distinguish Itself As a Combat Sports Brand

  • Published in News

Glory 17 is a turning point for Glory in many ways, marking its entry into the American PPV market by staging the largest, most significant kickboxing tournament on American soil in decades. But even more noteworthy than that, this event signifies the opportunity for Glory to truly distinguish itself as a unique combat sports product that is capable of delivering where other brands may falter, particularly the UFC. The UFC’s present difficulties are well known: problems with a ballooning roster, complaints about “boring” fights, and problems marketing fighters have led to great inconsistency in the quality of UFC events. Glory, on the other hand, has experienced few to no difficulties in this regard--and for very interesting reasons. In this article, I will talk about some of the things that I think make Glory a fairly unique entity in the combat sports world.

1. Each Glory weight class has more elite fighters than a single card can accommodate.

The Last Man Standing tournament is essentially a display of the entire Middleweight division, and it is a scary division, featuring Artem Levin, Joe Schilling, Simon Marcus, Wayne Barrett, Filip Verlinden, and Melvin Manhoef as well as dangerous contenders like Alex Pereira--all of these men are either champions, former champions, or fighters who have distinguished themselves against championship-level competition. Whereas some promotions might struggle to fill fight cards with less accomplished talent, Glory has the unique problem of struggling to fill fight cards with overqualified talent, bumping the likes of Levin to the non-televised SuperFight Series. If you ever find yourself wondering why a fighter like Giorgio Petrosyan gets to occupy the fourth slot on the Glory main card, it’s frequently because any Glory card could offer you a choice of several main event fights.

2. Glory has complete control of the rules of the sport.

No matter how many three or four-letter-name sanctioning bodies Glory will claim accountability to, the fact remains that Glory, as an organization in today’s combat sports market, is unique because of the complete control that it has on the rules of the sport. By frequently changing its clinch rules, its knockdown rules, and its 8-count rules, Glory has crafted and refined a viewing experience that is more fast-paced and exciting, producing a high volume of memorable fights and highlight reel moments. This is an ability that neither the UFC nor any other MMA organization possess, and the end result for them is a perpetual struggle to reconcile the Unified Rules of MMA with the type of fights that UFC wants to sell. Glory, by contrast, can eliminate any rule that negatively affects the viewing experience.

The flipside is that we also don’t have to talk about drug testing in the sport of Kickboxing. Glory is in a peculiar position here as well, operating between the lines of an oversight structure that is very dated and arguably unequipped to handle a multimillion dollar professional sport. Indeed, WKA’s official rules, published in 2011, leave drug testing up to the discretion of the “WKA supervisor, tournament promoters, and the official doctor,” who “can and may perform tests” but don’t necessarily have to do so unless directed by local law, making WKA’s actual responsibility very unclear. The procedure, standards, and logistics of testing are either mentioned in vague terms or not outlined at all. Glory, for its part, hasn’t forced the issue, leaving us to enjoy the fruits of ambiguity. In other words: don’t ask, don’t tell, and Pride never die.

3. Glory is learning how to market its fighters.

This is an issue that we’ve discussed several times here on LiverKick and which Dave Walsh expounded on in his excellent piece comparing kickboxing to the history of regional pro wrestling promotion. Behind every fight is an evolving narrative with at least two central characters, and as viewers, we’re interested in not only the fight itself but also in how the fight will determine the next chapter of the story. The promoter’s job is to build anticipation and interest in the fight and to illustrate what it means in the grand scheme of the division. With Glory 17, Glory has been proactive in producing media which tells us the story, including an excellent video on the rivalry between Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita. The authenticity of this rivalry (for the critics’ sake) is as irrelevant as the authenticity of the 2009 rivalry between Badr Hari and Alistair Overeem--it felt real at the time and it electrified the atmosphere at the Saitama Super Arena. As Glory gains screen time on television and PPV, promotional efforts like this will be increasingly vital to its success.

While Glory got off to a rough start, it seems like the organization has found its identity as a kickboxing promotion and major combat sports brand. It is undeniably a unique presence in today’s sports entertainment market. If this event is a success and the Glory audience continues to grow, I think that Glory could become a leading company. Until then, you will have to join me in keeping fingers tightly crossed.

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